Looks like I get to start planning a trip to Europe!

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Peachyness, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Dec 29, 2012

    I started a thread a coupld of years ago about planning a two week trip to Europe. Well, due to unforseen expenses with one of our rental properties, we had to forego the trip to Europe (hubby didn't mind it since he is TERRIFIED of flying). Money-wise, we're doing a lot better now that things have calmed down. Mainly, we were losing a lot of money on one of our properties.

    Anyways, hubby's sister, who also doesn't care for flying either, has been to Europe many times reminded hubby how neat Europe is.

    Hubby has agreed to start talking and planning a trip to Europe. I'm thinking the end of 2013, October time.

    I'm hoping we can go for three weeks. I don't want to feel rushed so I'm thinking picking just a few places to go to. I mean, three weeks isn't long at all, but we both work, and he can only take so much time off. And this will be during the beginning of the school year, so I'll take three weeks.

    My plan for now:
    Germany- have family, can stay for free
    Paris, France
    Holland- have a friend, can stay for free

    Then, places I would LIKE to visit would be:
    Norway- for the fjords
    Switzerland, Interlacken- heard it was gorgeous there
    Denmark- Legoland?
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    How exciting!! I absolutely LOVED going over there. We went to London, Paris, and Rome. We're planning another trip to England when our daughter gets a bit older. We want to do another tour that includes London, Bath, Salisbury, York, Cambridge, and Wales.

    I would love to visit Germany. I'm trying to get hubs to apply for jobs over there, but I don't think he's too up for a long term committment over there.
     
  4. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    STG, can you share some tips, advice, things to see in Paris? I would love to pick your brain. :)
     
  5. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Lucky you! DH and I took both sons last summer ('11). We have family in Denmark so we flew to Copenhagen and spent a week there, then went to Aarhus (again, family) and got into the rental car bound for Legoland. It's about 1 1/2 hours from the German border. We traveled through Germany toward France and stopped at a WW2 museum and found the foxholes from Band of Brothers fame. The U.S. cemetary and museum in Normandy is a "must see" if that part of history is your thing. Drove through streets of LeMans for DH on the way to Paris. We cashed in Marriot points and got a nice hotel a couple of blocks from Eiffel. Then we drove north to Copenhagen again. My favorite German town was Bremen. I loved the folk tale as a kid and it was just charming.
    If your hubby is not a happy flier, you may want to consider upgrading. We flew SAS and were able to upgrade at the last minute to business class. Well worth it! PM if you want more details. I want to hear all about your plans.
     
  6. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    How fantastic! I was also planning a 2-week trip for my mom, aunt, & I to go this past summer to London to go to the Olympics & Paris, but had to cancel the trip. Hopefully, soon, I'll get to say this same thing! Have fun!
     
  7. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Mary, can you share about the driving part. Was it difficult to rent a car (being a foreiner)? What did you have to show when you rented the car? Was it difficult to drive around? Was it easy to get around and park? Would you rent a car again or would you do trains/planes if you had to do it again?

    I just looked up the drive time from this town in Germany where my cousins live to Paris, France and it will take about 6 hours, driving. We would get to drive through Belgium so that's another place we could stop at on the way.

    Those are the trips I love. Renting a car, picking a destination, and then enjoy the adventure in between.

    We did that when we went to Hawaii. We had a luau to get to on the northern part of the island. We rented a car and stopped along the way. We had no goal in mind, or spots we picked out beforehand. Just stopped when it looked good. That day was the most fun! :)

    Anyways, I think that would be fun to do, but I worry about driving in such a foreign place.


    Ms. I, I hope you get to go! I remember you sharing that it didn't work out. Bummer! :(
     
  8. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I was just playing around with GOogle Maps, and thought of a fun road trip.
    From Berlin to Munich-- 5.5 hours
    Munich to Florence, Italy (why not!)- 6 hours
    Italy to Interlaken, Switzerland- 6 hours
    Interlaken to Paris-- 6.5 hours
    Paris back to Germany-- 6 hours
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    A Eurailpass can give a good deal of the same flexibility while relieving one of the necessity of worrying about...

    - Fuel prices: the cost per unit looks pretty cheap, till one figures out that in Europe gasoline/petrol/Benzine tends to be sold by the liter - a good deal of the expense is tax

    - Parking and parking fees: parking in cities can be horrible simply in terms of finding a space, it's rarely cheap, and there's many European cities are contemplating or have begin charging different parking fees at different times of day

    - Figuring out which roads are and which aren't toll roads

    - Missing a nifty sight because one was too busy trying to drive

    - Learning the traffic signs and laws - in the UK, the speed limit in a village is 30 mph, but it may not actually be posted anywhere: the driver is supposed to know that x many streetlights in y much road constitutes a requirement to slow down from the "national speed limit", which is 60 mph except where it isn't. It's less that the laws and signs differ from one European country to another (though they may still, in older towns and villages) than that they tend to be a little startling to someone used to US driving laws and signs.

    But I happen to like train travel.
     
  10. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    My friend took his son for their annual father/son trip to Iceland over the summer and his pictures are gorgeous. They are planning on going to Scandinavia, Norway and Sweden this summer.
     
  11. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Peach~we did the Eiffel Tower of course, the Basilica of Sacre Coeur, the Louvre, the Les Invalides, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, and the Palace of Versailles (which is a bit of a drive outside the city). There's a small museum dedicated to the French Jews that were transported to concentration camps in Germany that is worth looking at. If you can (I can't remember where exactly it is), look for the bridge of locks. I wish my hubs and I had tracked down a store with a lock. But you put your names/initials on the lock and then lock it on the bridge and throw the key into the river. We were on a tour group so for most of it, we were on a bus. We did take a cab a few places which wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. We stayed in a hotel right down from Moulin Rouge, but didn't go because it was expensive!
     
  12. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Look up Discover Walks. They are FREE tours given by English speaking native citizens. We did three of them in Paris and it was easily the best part of the whole trip. They're kind of behind the scenes looks. We did the Latin quarter, notre dame, and Montmartre.

    We also did the fat tire bike tour to Versailles. I highly
    recommend that as well.

    We also went to Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland. Went to Jung Frau joch (sp?). That was my second favorite part for sure.
     
  13. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    DH is a fearless driver so he wasn't bothered by the driving and he really wanted to drive on the Autobahn where there wasn't a speed limit. There were 4 of us so renting a car was cheaper than Eurailpass and we wanted to explore some places not on the rail route. Gas is definitely very expensive, but cars are small there so that helps. It's more common to find a car with manual transmission. We had a family member contact the local Avis rental place. We purchased a Garmin (GPS) online with European maps so we programmed in some sites ahead of time. That was excellent (except in Paris - tall buildings messed it up). We also had 1 phone with a data plan in case we needed maps, etc., otherwise, we used the laptop in the hotel (free wifi) to plan the next day and to make reservations. To simplify things, we stayed in a hotel chain with a variety of price levels and there was always one of those available in each location. If it had just been the 2 of us, we wouldn't have planned things so much, and we would have travelled farther.
    We did go to AAA and get a driver's license, but I'm not sure what good that really did. We stopped in a lot of cities and parked in parking garages. Once you get used to how their parking works (both meters and garages) it is easy.
     
  14. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Forgot to add, we did Paris, montreux, Lauterbrunnen, Zurich, and another Swiss city that's slipping my mind... The eurorail was fantastic! Never even missed not having a car.
     
  15. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Thanks guys!!

    Dgpiaffeteach, I will look those things up, espeically the Discover Walks. I actually thought about doing that one day. Moving to Europe and being a tour guide. :D (I have dual citizenship so I don't think it'd be too hard to move there...)

    The bike tour sounds awesome too.

    Mary, thanks for sharing your experience. I do know that gas is expensive there and by the liter. I think that's the same way in Japan (at least from what I remember when we went).

    I LOVE travelling by train, I was just worried that the time spent on train would eat up too much of our short vacation time. However, it may be easier for us two. Hubby can go either way when it comes to driving. He HATES driving in San Francisco (and gets very worked up) but doesn't mind it in LA. So, it's hard to say.

    Anyways, thanks you guys!! THis is his first trip to Europe and mine since I was 3 (so it doesn't count and basically my first too. :))

    ETA: If most cars rented out is manual than that is bascially not an option for us, then. Neither of us can drive a manual (I tried to learn, really I did, but my dad had no patience with me! :rolleyes:)
     
  16. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Peachy, my parents did rent a car when they went on their own. It's easier for if you're going out of the city. However, pretty much their only option was stick.
     
  17. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Well, I just read a bit about renting a car in Europe and after reading the need for a defibrilator after realizing how much you are paying just for gas, I headed right on over to this website: http://www.raileurope.com/us/shopping/pass_finder.htm

    It lets you enter all of the countires you are interested in visiting and it created the perfect rail pass for you. Price-wise, it looks like we'll be spending around $1200. Based on what I read, I think that is fair and reasonable. Plus, like TG said, we'll be able to relax and enjoy ourselves.
     
  18. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    We upgraded our rail passes to first class for not a lot and that was definitely worth it! Consider checking that out too!
     
  19. Ms_C

    Ms_C Comrade

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    Oh I am totally jealous! I spent five weeks in Rome last summer and am dying to go back. Hopefully I can go back next summer!
     
  20. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Yay! Sounds like fun. I'm actually abroad for a few weeks right now. I'm up too early to do anything thanks to jet lag. I highly recommend the 24-hour hop-on hop-off tours in major cities. I've done a few in Europe, including Paris. They're usually a good value and allow you to quickly see all the major sites and decide where you think you might want to stop and spend more time or just briefly stop for a photo. It's also just fun on the top of the double-deckers!
     
  21. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Bison, that's awesome. I found a website where you can buy hop-on hop-off tickets. Was there a particular company you went through? The one I found was through LonelyPlanet.com.
     
  22. bison

    bison Habitué

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    I would just wait until you get there and buy the tickets. It'd be simpler than redeeming a printout. They have an office and I believe you can buy them on the bus as well. We got ours at a hotel front desk last time. They're all over and everyone knows what they are. Look for big red busses! They also give discounts if you show previous tickets from other cities, or at least they used to. :)
     
  23. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Switzerland is SUPER expensive. Be prepared for that.

    Also, Paris- meh. I'd rather go to other places in France. The people are not friendly in Paris. But in southern France (WINE!) they are super wonderful.

    Plus- I would never ever waste almost 3 days of vacation on driving. Just fly or take a train. They're very fast, reliable and affordable.
     
  24. bison

    bison Habitué

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    It's funny, everyone says this but I've never found people in Paris to be rude as long as I ask I'd they speak English in French. Unless they're the metro workers.

    I also wouldn't drive, especially in the big cities with a manual car, but that's just me. If you want to see more than a couple of places, driving would use up all of your time. Flying within Europe has gotten very cheap as long as you can pack fairly light. I've used both RyanAir and EasyJet. Not glamorous, but effective. The big cities all have great public transport.
     
  25. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    We didn't find Switzerland to be any more expensive than France. It's a gorgeous country and the people and food are wonderful. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

    My experience with Paris was the same as bison's. We met a ton of people and only had a problem with one. They helped us navigate, buy contact solution, told us some history, and even translated a few menus in their entirety for my parents. Every country has some rude people so I wasn't surprised we met one :) We met a few rude Germans (rudest of the whole trip next to the Japanese) but again I just equate it to the rude people I meet here everyday ;) I loved Paris, as did my parents.

    I would recommend Paris and Switzerland, though we didn't care for Lucerne. It may have been due to it being rainy though as my uncle liked it when he went.
     
  26. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    When my son was in Germany for the summer of 2011, his favourite cities were Berlin and Prague.
     
  27. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I agree... but I'm lucky he's finally even agreed to go in the first place. My hubby does not like to fly, at all! It's going to be by train or car. I know my relatives will probably drive us around in Germany, but outside it'll probably be by train.

    ETA: Just noticed you said train. :) Yes, that's what we'll have to do.
     
  28. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    We didn't find any rude people in Paris. They were very accommodating.
     
  29. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I hear every now and then how rude people are in Paris and I always think about the people I run into here in America. Many are nice and then many are rude too. But, I guess when you are in another county where they speak a different language, maybe you feel a little vulnerable. I don't know... Anyways, on our very first day in Japan, we were waiting at a train station on our way to the hotel from the airport. There was a stand with tons of stuff and hubby was just looking around when the worker shooed my hubby away. We were a little taken back. We encountered a few rude people in Japan, but also a lot of really nice ones too. That first night I wondered if I would enjoy my trip to Japan if they all were like that lady. But, we ended up having a blast. Several Japanese people were so friendly and even helped us to figure out the subway train map, which was a bit confusing at first. :)
     
  30. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    You'll have a wonderful time!! I'm ready to go back as well. My two cousins go every year the first of May for three weeks. They have their motorcycles stored somewhere voer there and all their camping gear too. Needless to say they have some great stories and adventures.
     
  31. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I have a coworker who has friends that just got back from a month long vacation over there. Oh the joys of retirement!
     
  32. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Re: rude people in Paris- I've never actually been! It's just all my friends who have been have given me this report. Also, I was in Southern France and the French people I stayed with had the same opinion! They're like "Don't go to Paris unless you speak French".

    Of course it always depends!

    In my opinion, there's other places I would want to see, but it's not my trip! You'll have a blast whether or not the people in Paris are rude;)
     
  33. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    So, I was just rereading this thread. We didn't get to go to Europe in 2013 (I began working for a software company and didn't have the days saved up by October- we earned 1 day off per month, so by the time October rolled around, I only had earned about 1 week of vacation time).

    So, at first, I was thinking of going this year in October (like I wanted to last year), but hubby said recently that he prefers to go in the summer (and with me teaching at a school again, it makes more sense to go during the summer time anyways. I was just hoping to avoid the tourist season).

    Anyways, similar plan as in what I mentioned before, but I'm keeping it realistic. Hubby will be able to take about 15 work days off, so adding the weekends that's about 20 days, or so. Minus flying in and flying out, that leaves us with about 18 days in Europe.

    I plan to spend our time in Germany, France, and Denmark.
    I plan to purchase the Global Eurail Pass.
    We will fly in on Lufthansa into Munich and spend some days there, first. I haven't quite planned the next step, but was thinking of taking a train from Munich to Paris and then head back up to family in northern Germany. Not quite sure though.

    Anyways, I'm excited about planning again!! :)
     
  34. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Sounds like fun! I'm going to London and Denmark this summer for my honeymoon, and I can't wait! I've never been overseas before, but my husband (we got married in January... just waiting until summer vacation to celebrate) goes quite often. :)
     
  35. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I highly recommend the Rick Steves' books. I just finished reading Germany and London to start thinking about a trip next year. I just love his books. They make planning so easy!
     
  36. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Connoisseur

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    I was born in Germany. Back when my husband was working overseas we met in Frankfurt so that I could see my birthplace. We spent 10 days in Germany. We traveled everyday on the train. It was amazing. I wish we could go back soon but alas we both work for a school district and have almost 3 in college. Not happening anytime soon.
     
  37. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Congrats, bandnerd!! You will LOVE London!! Having never been to Denmark, I can't comment on that. :)

    dpg~one of my coworkers is going to London this summer and doing the Rick Stevens tour. I can't wait to hear about it when we come back from summer break.

    Have fun planning Peachy!!! I'm at 100 days left until I fly over to Scotland!
     
  38. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Lufthansa is incredible. We always use them when we fly to Europe.

    I highly highly highly recommend looking into EuroRail (raileurope.com). Look into the Rail Pass also. It'll make your life a looooot easier.
     
  39. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Traveling for ten days by rail does sound like fun!! I know hubby would enjoy that. :) Any must-see, must-dos in Germany that you can recommend? Also, what kind of tickets did you purchase when you travelled in Germany?
     
  40. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Yes, my family who lives in Germany typically fly in on Lufthansa. I also chose them for their great safety record (to help ease hubby's fear of flying). Thanks for the link! I've definitely been reading through that site trying to figure out the right pass for us. Any other tips? :)
     
  41. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Thanks STG! I can't wait to hear how your trip to Scotland went! And I'll except pictures on Facebook :D.


    Bandnerd- Congrats!!! When we got married, we waited until the following summer to go on our trip to Japan. It was well worth the wait. :)
     

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